“We have a new customer relationship management system, and all our customer service employees need to be provided with training quickly and effectively.” “We’re getting ready to launch a new product. Before that, however, our sales and customer service professionals need training so we can ensure a successful launch.” “Improving customer satisfaction is one of our goals throughout the chain.” These situations are familiar to people whose work is related to customer service.
Providing training to a large target group, such as customer service employees, is always a demanding project. It’s not enough that everyone receive the information – they must also understand what it means in practice.
In this blog article, we will be discussing how companies can use elearning to improve customer service. We will offer several options for elearning for customer service professionals.
Everything begins with customer service
It’s easy to forget how many customer service situations we experience on a daily basis. For example, we may take the bus to work, grab a cup of coffee on the way, have lunch or get something from the local grocery store. And after work, we need to shop for groceries. During the day, we might call to inquire about an erroneous invoice we’ve received. These are all everyday situations. They are such an integral part of our daily lives that it’s easy not to pay attention to them – or to completely forget about them afterward. However, what we do remember is exceptionally good or poor customer service. We’ll end up discussing such an experience with our friends and family, and perhaps also on social media with a wider audience.
Digitalization and global markets have strongly shaped our ways of interacting with companies. The channels we use are mainly digital, and we’re interacting less and less with actual people. At the same time, the significance of this interaction has increased immensely. If we aren’t happy with the customer experience, it’s easy for us as customers to choose another company. The importance of word of mouth has also increased significantly, now that sharing our experiences is easier than ever before.
A perfectly fine-tuned and automated online shopping experience isn’t enough if dealing with warranty or servicing issues is painfully slow or complicated. The same applies to invoicing issues.
Today, customer service plays a key role in standing out from the competition. Rapid responses, friendliness and a superior customer experience are all strengths that cannot be copied from other companies as long as people are serving people. And it pays to invest in such strengths.
It’s obvious that improving customer service and professional skills is important. The challenge lies in organizing training when a company has multiple locations across the country or when customer service is provided by dozens of people.
Elearning is often a good option for providing training in customer service, because it’s not dependent on time, place or the device. Online training also ensures that everyone receives the same training on the same material and has the same opportunities to apply what they’ve learned. The benefits of elearning also include monitoring. The supervisor or the HR department can check to ensure that every member of the team has completed the training.
Elearning in phone customer service
In a large phone customer service unit, the challenge is to make sure that everyone is starting from the same point. Employee turnover and seasonal employment relationships set special requirements for maintaining and further developing professional skills in customer service. Elearning makes it possible to provide information consistently to a large target group. In addition, those who have already completed the training can always access the material when they need to.
Training suitable for phone customer service professionals includes:
- Product training
Product and service training is the most obvious option for training for phone customer service employees. Product knowledge is particularly important when dealing with technical products. The purpose of the training is to familiarize employees with the main qualities of the product and to help them answer customers’ questions. Converting a manual into elearning content won’t do much in itself. However, if the training also covers the product qualities that customers find to be the most important, and offers a section with potential questions from customers along with answers to these questions, the training becomes highly useful.
The benefits also include faster and more accessible customer service as a result of increased competence. Good product knowledge may also help employees identify opportunities for additional sales. In addition, the customer will perceive the service as more professional when the employee knows the product or service thoroughly.
- Training on handling difficult customer service situations
All customer service work also includes demanding or difficult situations. Such situations are even more complicated on the phone, since the employee is not able to show understanding or empathy through expressions and gestures. For this reason, it’s particularly important to be prepared for such situations: to know how to handle the situation, fix the problem and reach an understanding with the customer.
Expertise in handling difficult customer service situations has the strongest positive effect on customer satisfaction.
- Problem-solving palettes
Problem-solving palettes, or knowledge base materials, help customer service professionals steer the conversation in the desired direction and solve the problem. These are closely connected to product and service training. They make it easy to check the process during a phone call, if the customer service employee cannot remember the next step, for example. This is much more practical than trying to find a specific piece of information in an extensive system.
For new employees, problem-solving palettes are an effective learning tool. They make it easier to identify the customer’s problem and, consequently, to provide quicker customer service.
- Training for customers
Training doesn’t need to be limited to the company’s employees. Product and service training can also be adjusted to be used by customers. Offering usage and maintenance instructions as online training enables customers to resolve any issues directly, without needing to contact customer service.
Such online training also improves the customer experience. The customer gets more value and the customer service workload decreases when customers are able to resolve issues independently.
Elearning in customer service in trade and retail
Seasonal employment relationships and high employee turnover pose challenges in trade and retail. It’s also challenging to offer an equal playing field for all employees. Supervisors or job instructors are often responsible for training. Currently, elearning can be used to teach practical skills only to a limited extent, but it has many applications in the store and in the field. The material is easy to access again – on a smartphone, for example – whenever it’s needed.
Below, we list examples of challenges in customer service in cafés, but similar solutions also work in many other companies in trade and retail.
Training suitable for cafés includes:
- Product training
Product training can be provided as elearning in cafés, where this type of training is not about product qualities, but about the ingredients used in products. This information is crucial for people with allergies.
The most important benefit here is customer satisfaction, as well as avoiding dangerous situations.
- Training in display, hygiene and self-monitoring
Creating a consistent image for a chain requires a high level of routine. Routine is easier to achieve when information about display is easily accessible: how to make pastries look as attractive as possible, for example.
In addition to complying with statutory hygiene requirements, cafés may have their own practices for ensuring a high level of hygiene. There may also be chain-level requirements concerning the replacement of cakes that are on display at room temperature. Hygiene training goes hand in hand with self-monitoring training.
The benefits of such training include creating a consistent image at the chain level, in addition to customer satisfaction, of course.
- Work instructions
The work instructions to be followed in a café can also be provided as elearning. Providing online training is a good alternative to posting instruction sheets behind the counter. This type of training is most effective when provided to new employees who have not yet learned the routines. The online training may include very detailed information about the daily work instructions that is easy to access when necessary, meaning that a job instructor is no longer needed to remind employees of the various work phases.
The benefits of this type of training include creating a pleasant environment in the café, which leads to high customer satisfaction.
Customer story: The implementation of a new customer service model at Yliopiston Apteekki
The Yliopiston Apteekki (University Pharmacy) chain needed to implement a new customer service model. This change was implemented as elearning because the chain has an extensive network of locations and its employees work in shifts. There was a need for training that was independent of time and place. The chain wanted the training to be interactive, to challenge and inspire employees to think about what the new customer model means in their work. Different versions of the training were tailored to pharmacists, cosmetologists and technical employees in an effort to better serve their needs.
Elearning in customer service related to a valuable product or service
The higher the total value of the product or service, the higher the expectations for the level of customer service. In this section, we will discuss training challenges related to customer service in the car trade. However, the challenges are similar to those that arise in sales and customer service related to other valuable products and services, such as motor vehicles, industrial equipment, extensive service solutions and real estate.
Training suitable for car dealerships includes:
Customer service and customer satisfaction play a vital role in the car trade. Customer visits are less frequent, but the purchases are considerable. The sellers are top experts in their field, but there is always room for improvement.
- Legal training related to the car trade
In terms of customer service, it’s important that the sales professionals in the car trade be up to date on the consumer protection requirements. In a transaction, all parties should be familiar with liability and servicing requirements, so they know what they are committing to. Training that includes customer cases is highly effective in this respect.
Such training precludes problems related to any lack of clarity that may result, in the worst-case scenario, in considerable expense. Customer satisfaction is also high, when the customer feels they can make a transaction with complete confidence.
- Training on interacting with customers
When the value of an individual purchase is high, the customer may take a very long time to make their decision. They may visit the store several times, and they must feel welcome every time. This where customer service skills come into play. Even if the deal cannot be closed during the first visit, the customer is more likely to come back to a store where they received good customer service earlier. As we all know, a returning customer is the best kind of customer. The same training may also include the implementation of the company values, which are intended to be reflected in customer service.
Customer satisfaction is a particularly important aspect of this type of training. Over the long term, customer satisfaction manifests as repeat purchases.
Elearning is suitable for nearly all types of training
Opportunities to use elearning are not limited to meeting customer service needs. Read here about how online training can be used for induction and orientation, or read here about how Kemira used online training in the implementation of its Code of Conduct among its employees. Online training can be tailored to the needs of various user groups to strengthen their existing skills or create favorable conditions for acquiring new skills.
Do you need help with planning elearning? Do you need expert advice on how your company can improve customer service through online training? Contact us.